The Ten Horseman of the Appocalypse … or why the collapse of the American Empire is inevitable
I know I have discussed many of these before some of them at great length. There are several aspects to this list. For one thing, each of these ten items is something that has occurred since or was a radical departure from America in the 196os. An America whose schools, infrastructure, health care, and middle class were the envy of the world. And each of these things has been an epic fail, something that has cost the nation staggering sums of money and/or blood while simultaneously making the situation worse. And lastly, it’s the sum total of all of them that is alarming. Any one of them is a national calamity, with all ten of them (and likely a few more I didn’t cover,) its beyond me how the future can be anything but bleak. In no particular order, and there is some overlap:
1. The War on Drugs. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent, whole police forces, armies and even governments corrupted by drug money, countless lives ruined, tens of thousands dead … and drugs are as cheap ana available as they ever were. In fact the only drug that has seriously declined in use since this prohibition madness began … is tobacco. Americans in the 30s were able to understand that prohibition was creating more problems than it solved, not so much today apparently.
2. Public Education. In the 1960s the USA’s educational system was the envy of the world. It was actually possible for people to work their way through college. And the whole point of the educational system was to produce well rounded peopl who would be enlightened and productive citizens. Now it produces standardized tested drones designed to be cubicle workers for corporate America.
3. Prison Policy. California illustrates that nicely. In the 1960s CA had an incredible prison system that concentrated on rehabilitating prisoners. And the recidivism rate was the envy of the world. Since then California has gone to a prison policy of “punishment only,” and the results are predictable. Prisoners are dehumanized by prison, and completely unprepared for society when released. So the recidivism rate has gone through the roof, and huge numbers of people are imprisoned at vast public expense. It’s literally insane.
4. Afghanistan and Iraq. Trillions spent, tens of thousands of Americans dead and maimed, and the only thing we have to show for it is we are more hated than ever. Even ARVN (South Vietnamese) troops didn’t kill our GIs, Iraq has allied with Iran, and our Afghan allies kill and wound our troops almost daily. And Obama with a straight face says both invasions are both “victories.” Right.
5. Health Care. France provides its citizens, every one, with cradle to gave health care that is the envy of the world for about 11% of their GNP. The USA spends 16% of its GNP on health care and provides its citizens with the worst health care in the developed world. Not only are Americans paying through the nose for the shittiest health care in the developed world, many of them are deluded into thinking its the best health care in the developed world.
6. War on Terror. Staggering sums of money spent, the largest expansion of government since the 1930s, government power to intrude on American’s lives expanded and still expanding … to defend against a threat that is so small it is statistically zero. That’s right, an American’s chances of being killed by terrorists have remained the same forever, essentially zero. As threats to our lives terrorism is not even on the radar.
7. Infrastructure Fail. Again, in the 1960s America’s infrastructure was the envy of the developed world. And since then spending has been diverted into the military, and what spending does get made on infrastructure is so rife with corruption that mind numbing amounts of money get spent to accomplish very little. And we are now two trillion dollars in the hole.
8. War on the Poor and Middle Class/Upwards Transfer of Wealth/Legalized Corruption. This is a big one, in some senses the biggest one of all. From the end of World War Two until the late 1970s rising tides did lift all boats, and the American middle class was the most prosperous the world had ever seen. Since then the rich have gotten richer while everyone else has lost ground, and this has been very deliberate and systematic. This is trillions of dollars that has been taken out of circulation an invested in offshore bank accounts, if such a word like investment can properly be used.
9. War on Science. In the 1950s and 1960s everyone knew that science and scientists were one of the core things that had led America to greatness. Not so much anymore. And a huge percentage of our science infrastructure is now devoted to military research, or simply devoted to subsidizing corporate research in what were once public colleges and universities. This has impoverished us all from any number of perspectives.
10. Theocracy in America. I don’t know what else to say, a significant minority in the USA is bent on turning the USA into a Biblical Theocracy. This is crazy on so many levels, the first of which is that biblical prinicples fail as any sort of social policy. In the Bible punishment and prohibition are the only social policies, both of which are demonstrably the least effective social policies.
I could go on. And these all tie together in horrible ways. One of the most obvious is that there are powerful institutions and forces working very very hard to make sure that none of the above change. The prison lobby isn’t interested in rehabilitating prisoners for example, they want as many prisons and prisoners as possible. And they’ve succeeded, with 5% of the world’s population we have about 25% of the prisoners. A staggering waste of money and resources when it comes right down to it.
That’s the crux of it: staggeringly wasteful spending that doesn’t create any wealth whatsoever, but it enriches a tiny number of people who fund powerful lobbies to keep it so. Often with horrific unintended consequences on the side as well. This is no way to run a nation.
And most Americans are oblivious. Or worse.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. It’s from the History Channel program Life After People, a show that I heartily recommenced and encourage people to watch.)